Author Topic: Mustachian PhD  (Read 1615 times)

ruraljuror

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Mustachian PhD
« on: August 10, 2019, 09:53:34 AM »
When I reach FI in about 9 years I would like the opportunity to transition to professoring at my alma mater. While the university doesn't necessarily require a PhD (I have a master's), the credential would help me prepare for the career change and increase the likelihood of being hired.

What is the most economical and work-life-school balanced method for earning a PhD in the political science, public policy, governance, leadership, management without focusing on research. The university is a liberal arts institution.

i would continue to work full-time, so a part-time, online program seems the most feasible.

Appreciate any thoughts you may have.

mozar

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2019, 10:05:36 AM »
You should ask the university you intend to teach at.

Kris

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2019, 10:07:26 AM »
What field specifically?

I think you should make an appointment with the chair of the department you want to work in to talk about this candidly. Because as a former chair in a liberal arts department, I donít find this all that feasible.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2019, 10:49:28 AM »
What field specifically?

I think you should make an appointment with the chair of the department you want to work in to talk about this candidly. Because as a former chair in a liberal arts department, I donít find this all that feasible.

I don't see it as all that feasible in a lot of the sciences, either.  Definitely talk with the appropriate department chair.

There are masses of applicants for teaching and research positions at universities.  What special thing could you bring?  Is there one specialty that you could teach one course in, that would add value to their course offerings?

You may find a local community college would be more open to this.

mistymoney

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2019, 07:43:03 AM »
How does one get a phd without a research focus? ditto with getting a professor gig.

Case

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 09:19:39 AM »
When I reach FI in about 9 years I would like the opportunity to transition to professoring at my alma mater. While the university doesn't necessarily require a PhD (I have a master's), the credential would help me prepare for the career change and increase the likelihood of being hired.

What is the most economical and work-life-school balanced method for earning a PhD in the political science, public policy, governance, leadership, management without focusing on research. The university is a liberal arts institution.

i would continue to work full-time, so a part-time, online program seems the most feasible.

Appreciate any thoughts you may have.

As others have said, you should meet with dean/chair/etc of the department/school, discuss your goal, and see what you would need to get there (if possible).  It seems like your goal is to be a lecturer of some sort, and this might be feasible as a adjunct faculty.

Typically, tenure-track faculty positions are increasingly competitive due to the increasing number of PhDs and somewhat stagnant number of available positions.  I find it unlikely that an online PhD will be very competitive.  Although online degrees are more common for undergrad, it's still quite rare for PhDs... I would be surprised if that changes any times soon.

Your odds may be better if you have some credentials that give you a heads up in your particular field.  Perhaps you can teach a unique class related to whatever field you currently work in that is presumably related to the area you want to get a PhD in?

historienne

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2019, 09:57:12 AM »
Hard to say without knowing the institution.  If you want to PM the name to me, or post more info about the school here, I can probably give more feedback. For example, by 'liberal arts institution' do you mean that it doesn't grant degrees beyond the BA?  How big is the student body?  Is it located in a "desirable" area, such as a major city?  How selective or prestigious is it (US News rankings are a decent proxy for this).  How many people are currently tenure-track faculty in the poli sci department?  What is the course load (ie - how many classes do faculty typically teach per semester)?  Are you looking to adjunct, or get a tenure-track job? 

There are exceptions, for sure, but to be competitive for a tenure-track job in political science at most liberal arts institutions, you will need a Ph.D. from a full-time, brick and mortar program with a good reputation in the field.  And even then, the chances of you getting hired at any specific institution would be very very small.  The calculation might change if, for example, the college in question is a non-selective institution in a very rural or economically depressed area, with a faith requirement for professors (all factors that will reduce the applicant pool).

Adjuncting is more realistic at most institutions.  However, to adjunct at the liberal arts college I used to work at, a part-time, online program would probably have hurt more than it helped.  The masters alone might have been enough, though.

historienne

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2019, 10:00:43 AM »
As an aside, full time brick and mortar Ph.D. programs in political science are typically paid, although not all that well.  So if you are interested in the field, you might consider doing a more intense Ph.D. program post-FI.  This would only be if you like research, though - that's what the degree is.

If you're not interested in research but want to work at a university, you might also think about other roles.  An Ed.D. might be enough to work in, for example, a Center for Teaching and Learning or Writing Center.  Those are much more commonly done part-time. 

tyrannostache

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2019, 03:14:52 PM »
I think @historienne is right on here. Professorships--even temporary, visiting positions--are incredibly competitive. Attractive departments (like those at many liberal arts colleges) are likely to receive materials from hundreds of highly qualified applicants for every opening. You'll need credentials from a top-notch brick and mortal school, an impressive publications record, and strong teaching experience to even be in the running. An online PhD would be a red flag for many colleges and universities.

Pursue a PhD when you are FI if that is something that really matches your passion and interests. But don't pursue an online PhD wit the idea that it will help you land an academic job your alma mater.

Adjunct teaching, as others have mentioned, might be more doable with a Master's, particularly if you have relevant job experience. I've recently had a few intriguing conversations with folks at a local college about the potential for offering short courses in my area of career expertise. I was surprised that I got a lot more interest when I asked about career-related courses than when I asked about adjuncting for the school's bread-and-butter courses (I have a PhD and lots of experience teaching the bread-and-butter courses).

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2019, 08:53:43 PM »
Unless they pay you to do the PHD and give you a stipend, donít do it! Trust me.

Kepler

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2019, 05:17:17 PM »
Just to echo the comments above: academic positions are extremely competitive, and even casual teaching opportunities may not be readily available unless there is some reason your alma mater struggles to attract teaching staff (remote location or whatever).  The odds of being able to teach at any specific institution are usually very low - unless of course you've already had conversations where the institution has actively invited you you to teach there, and/or you have such compelling professional experience that any institution would be happy to create something for you.  (In political science, for example, it could be compelling if you've had a high-profile political career, whether as an elected official or senior civil service or high-level political consultancy.  In management, high-flying corporate experience could be similarly valued.)

If your "draw" is that you've had a high-flying career, a PhD probably won't add anything to that.  If you intend the PhD to be a draw, you need to be aware that it's very difficult for someone who career changes into academia late, to develop the kind of research profile that would give them an edge.  It's not impossible - I did it myself, picking up my PhD after an extended stint in industry - but it's rare. 

I second those who advise not to go for a PhD unless you have a scholarship - and those who advise not to go for a PhD unless you are actively interested in research.  A PhD is not a teaching credential and will not provide any teaching training.  It is possible to enrol in a coursework degree oriented to postgraduate teaching skills, but honestly, I wouldn't recommend that either, unless you already have a teaching job and your employer offers to pay for the credential. 

If you have the right orientation, a PhD might be a fun retirement activity for some people - I had loosely planned to do this myself, until I accidentally fell back into academia a bit earlier than I had intended...  But I wouldn't get one just to teach - there are other ways to do that in retirement.

ruraljuror

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2019, 03:30:07 PM »
I greatly appreciate the thoughtful responses. Obviously, I'm working well outside academia now and am naÔve as far as requirements are concerned. It has been a few years, but I have spoken with a professor at the university and they felt 25 years in public administration in addition to a master's degree would make it possible for me to teach at the university. The school is fairly small, requires strict religious adherence and is not in a location many would find desirable. Professors focus almost exclusively on teaching. 

The comments related to the pursuit of a PhD for the purposes of teaching and not research are very enlightening. I assumed many people sought a "terminal degree" for the purposes of teaching in universities not necessarily for research. I must have had that thought stuck in my head since I wasn't aware of my professors pursuing research during undergrad.

Hard to say without knowing the institution.  If you want to PM the name to me, or post more info about the school here, I can probably give more feedback. For example, by 'liberal arts institution' do you mean that it doesn't grant degrees beyond the BA?  How big is the student body?  Is it located in a "desirable" area, such as a major city?  How selective or prestigious is it (US News rankings are a decent proxy for this).  How many people are currently tenure-track faculty in the poli sci department?  What is the course load (ie - how many classes do faculty typically teach per semester)?  Are you looking to adjunct, or get a tenure-track job? 

There are exceptions, for sure, but to be competitive for a tenure-track job in political science at most liberal arts institutions, you will need a Ph.D. from a full-time, brick and mortar program with a good reputation in the field.  And even then, the chances of you getting hired at any specific institution would be very very small.  The calculation might change if, for example, the college in question is a non-selective institution in a very rural or economically depressed area, with a faith requirement for professors (all factors that will reduce the applicant pool).

Adjuncting is more realistic at most institutions.  However, to adjunct at the liberal arts college I used to work at, a part-time, online program would probably have hurt more than it helped.  The masters alone might have been enough, though.

To answer some of historienne's questions - Very few degrees beyond a BA, 4,000 students, located in a very small city (25k people), not highly ranked, and is a private/Christian school.
I'm hoping to speak with the department chair before the end of the year to get a better understanding of how I should prepare to compete for a position in 9 years. If it is foreseeable a terminal degree will be a requirement to be a full-time professor within the next 9 years, I'm hearing in the responses a PhD may not suit me because it is not a teaching credential, will be focused on research and requires a full-time commitment. Does this sound accurate?

Malcat

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2019, 03:50:16 PM »
Teaching at a university is very different than working as a professor at a university.

I don't know about your school, but here, there are no professorship jobs that aren't 99% research, 1% teaching. Profs usually teach 1 class for max of 3 hrs a week, that's it.

Talk to your department head and find out what kind of teaching opportunities there are.
Becoming a tenure track prof in retirement because you want to teach at your alma mater is kind of like becoming a pediatrician in retirement because you like the idea of working with sick kids.

Kris

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2019, 04:11:51 PM »
I greatly appreciate the thoughtful responses. Obviously, I'm working well outside academia now and am naÔve as far as requirements are concerned. It has been a few years, but I have spoken with a professor at the university and they felt 25 years in public administration in addition to a master's degree would make it possible for me to teach at the university. The school is fairly small, requires strict religious adherence and is not in a location many would find desirable. Professors focus almost exclusively on teaching. 

The comments related to the pursuit of a PhD for the purposes of teaching and not research are very enlightening. I assumed many people sought a "terminal degree" for the purposes of teaching in universities not necessarily for research. I must have had that thought stuck in my head since I wasn't aware of my professors pursuing research during undergrad.

Hard to say without knowing the institution.  If you want to PM the name to me, or post more info about the school here, I can probably give more feedback. For example, by 'liberal arts institution' do you mean that it doesn't grant degrees beyond the BA?  How big is the student body?  Is it located in a "desirable" area, such as a major city?  How selective or prestigious is it (US News rankings are a decent proxy for this).  How many people are currently tenure-track faculty in the poli sci department?  What is the course load (ie - how many classes do faculty typically teach per semester)?  Are you looking to adjunct, or get a tenure-track job? 

There are exceptions, for sure, but to be competitive for a tenure-track job in political science at most liberal arts institutions, you will need a Ph.D. from a full-time, brick and mortar program with a good reputation in the field.  And even then, the chances of you getting hired at any specific institution would be very very small.  The calculation might change if, for example, the college in question is a non-selective institution in a very rural or economically depressed area, with a faith requirement for professors (all factors that will reduce the applicant pool).

Adjuncting is more realistic at most institutions.  However, to adjunct at the liberal arts college I used to work at, a part-time, online program would probably have hurt more than it helped.  The masters alone might have been enough, though.

To answer some of historienne's questions - Very few degrees beyond a BA, 4,000 students, located in a very small city (25k people), not highly ranked, and is a private/Christian school.
I'm hoping to speak with the department chair before the end of the year to get a better understanding of how I should prepare to compete for a position in 9 years. If it is foreseeable a terminal degree will be a requirement to be a full-time professor within the next 9 years, I'm hearing in the responses a PhD may not suit me because it is not a teaching credential, will be focused on research and requires a full-time commitment. Does this sound accurate?

It's not that, exactly. It's that:

- The Ph.D. is a crapload of time and expense for very little (if any) return in your case. If the person you talked to thought that your 25 years in public administration plus the masters you already have (yes?) is sufficient, then leave it at that. The Ph.D. is not going to make you more hire-able enough to be of any worth to you.

- You are likely only to be able to get a part-time adjunct position, if anything at all. Again, the Ph.D. is just not worth pursuing because it won't change that.

- Even at a small place like the university you're talking about, they are likely to have quite a few applicants for any full-time job. Most of those applicants will be young Ph.D holders, and they will likely be seen as more competitive than you, even if you do get a Ph.D, for a number of factors. Bluntly put, an older person with a new/recent Ph.D. will not be seen as good a candidate as a younger person with a new/recent Ph.D.

Getting a full-time position at that university in 9 years is, frankly, probably a pretty long shot. There would have to be: a) a full-time position that just happens to open up at that time (are you looking for tenure track? that's even less likely); b) in a field and sub-field that you have experience with (that is, a full-time instructor at a place like that would be expected to teach general courses in the field, but also the department would probably be looking for someone to teach one or two very particular upper-level courses and your expertise would have to line up with that course sufficiently for you to look like the best candidate to teach it); c) for a full-time position, especially tenure track, you'd have to go through a pretty bureaucratic hiring process involving a committee of 4-6 people making the decision. So it's not at all as simple as the department chair looking through applications, bringing you in, and deciding which one gets the job.

Without more information, here's what I would say your best bet would be:

- go to the department's website and look at the list of courses they currently offer. See what you can learn about who is tenured/tenure track, and who are adjunct ("instructors"). This will give you some idea of how many people teach in the department. Also look at their course offerings, to see which courses you are currently qualified to teach. Be honest with yourself.

- Since you want to teach there in 9 years, and you don't have a Ph.D. I would say your best bet is to start trying to get your foot in the door now. This is still a long shot. But would you be able to start teaching an occasional class for them now or in the near future? If so, nine years from now, if you had taught for them -- perhaps taken on an extra class as needed, and shown yourself to be reliable -- you'd be a known quantity. If by some chance a full-time position were to open then, you'd be a known quantity, and that might help your chances. If you think you might be able to do that, go talk to the department chair about your interest in teaching there. Bring your CV, and ask them what they think the outlook is long-term.

ruraljuror

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Re: Mustachian PhD
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2019, 04:16:28 PM »
Kris and Malkynn - fantastic insight and recommendations, thank you.